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The inverted-Y shaped, 45m (148ft) Azadi Freedom Monument built in 1971 to commemorate the 2500th anniversary of the Persian Empire - Tehran

Iran is not blessed with one of the world's loveliest capitals. Pollution, traffic snarls, chronic overcrowding and a lack of responsible planning have all helped to make Tehran a metropolis that even the most effusive travel agent would have difficulty praising.

If you're expecting an exotic crossroads steeped in oriental splendour, you'll be sadly disappointed. The main sights are spread out, but the hotels are good, the variety of restaurants is impressive, the facilities are far ahead of those anywhere in the provinces, and the Tehranis are friendly.

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